Apple's new MacBook Pro keyboard may avoid sticky keys after all

Gadget repair site iFixit says it's a "cover-up" -- in both senses of the word!

There's a new membrane above each key that could keep dust out.

Apple explicitly told CNET that though its 2018 MacBook Pro comes with a new third-generation "butterfly switch" keyboard, it didn't do any new engineering or tweaks to prevent the dreaded "sticky key" issue that's sparked multiple lawsuits and a free Apple repair program over the past few months.

But gadget repair and teardown site iFixit has evidence that Apple may have actually quietly addressed the issue. It turns out that the new MacBook Pro's keyboard has a new, thin silicone membrane on top of the mechanism that seems purposefully designed to shield the delicate mechanical parts from dust -- not least of which because it's a dead ringer for a patented Apple design called "Ingress Protection for Keyboards." 

iFixit / GIF by Sean Hollister/CNET

(Ingress Protection is an industry phrase that means "keeps out dust and/or water" -- when Apple says your iPhone 8 has an IP67 rating, that means it protects against against a certain amount of those things.)

Officially, Apple has only said that the keyboard is quieter now, but iFixit believes that's a cover-up. In more ways than one. Because the key is now literally covered with a silicone membrane, yeah? Sorry. Had to.

As some pundits are pointing out, Apple isn't likely to admit that it's fixed the MacBook Pro's keyboard, because that would be admitting that the MacBook Pro had a problem to begin with -- which isn't Apple's style, and might be particularly dangerous when the company's facing down lawsuits. 

But that doesn't explain why Apple would bother telling journalists like us that the keyboard doesn't include a fix. Perhaps the company's not sure it'll actually solve the issue, and is hedging its bets. 

That might also explain why Apple was hesitant to include the membrane until now, when -- as The Verge's Nilay Patel points out -- Apple came up with this idea before a MacBook Pro with butterfly switch keyboard ever started shipping.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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